Q&A

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - AC­TOR In­ter­view by SASKIA TILLERS

Den­nis Quaid:

“Ac­tors never used to do pub­lic­ity or award shows – it was un­cool.”

You’ve played the quintessen­tially whole­some dad char­ac­ter so many times. Off­screen, what kind of par­ent do you think you are? I do my best. Truth be told, I [think par­ents] all feel like we don’t do enough, that we’re not per­fect. I just did a movie called The In­truder, where you think I am The Par­ent Trap dad for the first 20 min­utes, but then I go psy­cho. So… par­ents, please do not take your kids to The In­truder! You’ll ruin my ca­reer.

And you played Lind­say Lo­han’s, well, dad, in a 1998 re­make of The Par­ent Trap. What was it like work­ing with her as a pre-teen? [She was] the most

tal­ented 11-year-old I’ve ever seen. She had me be­liev­ing there were two girls [play­ing her char­ac­ters, twins An­nie and Hal­lie]. She’d never been to Eng­land, but she went into this English ac­cent that was so flaw­less, it was amaz­ing. I haven’t seen or talked to her in many years, but I wish her well.

I think there’s a come­back there for her.

Natasha Richard­son, who played your wife in that movie, died after a ski­ing ac­ci­dent in 2009. You were quite close, weren’t you? I was just heart­bro­ken. I was heart­bro­ken for her kids and for Liam [Nee­son], her hus­band. What a tragedy. She was one of the most beau­ti­ful hu­man be­ings I ever worked with. I was lucky to know her.

You starred with Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine in 1990’s Post­cards From The Edge, which was based on Car­rie Fisher’s semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal novel about her re­la­tion­ship with her mum Deb­bie Reynolds. What do you re­mem­ber of that shoot? It was a very dif­fer­ent time, sort of like the in­mates had taken over the asy­lum, back then. It was ex­cit­ing, a golden age where ac­tors didn’t do pub­lic­ity – that was un­cool. You did not go to award shows – that was un­cool. You had mys­tery. Now with so­cial me­dia, that’s pretty much im­pos­si­ble. Speak­ing of the ’90s, you and Meg Ryan were mar­ried for nine years,

al­most the entirety of that decade. Was it hard to shake off the pub­lic’s over­bear­ing in­ter­est in you as a cou­ple? It is not so con­stant and over­bear­ing any­more [be­cause] they have moved on to the younger ones. So I’m quite fine.

In your new film A Dog’s Jour­ney, your char­ac­ter shares a very spe­cial bond with his ca­nine. So it has to be asked: are you a dog per­son, or would you ’fess up to be­ing a cat lover, too?

I’m not a cat hater; I just never re­ally had them. I’ve al­ways been a dog per­son. In fact, I’ve got my dog Peaches right here. She’s a minia­ture English bull­dog, and my con­stant companion.

You are of­ten very can­did about get­ting sober. Why do you think it’s im­por­tant to dis­cuss this openly?

It was about co­caine, 30 years ago. It’s a thing that I got through, and I wouldn’t change it, look­ing back. I was ad­dicted to it, and you know every­body has prob­lems, [so] it’s im­por­tant to open up about it once you’ve been through it – for other peo­ple.

Wikipedia claims that you stud­ied Man­darin and dance in high school. True or false? That’s bullsh*t! I don’t know a word of Man­darin. But bal­let, I did. I took about five classes be­cause of box­ing. And it helped. A Dog’s Jour­ney is in cin­e­mas from Thurs­day, Au­gust 15.

“Ad­dic­tion is a thing I got through – and I wouldn’t change it”

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